THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR JUNE 27-JULY 3 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly


Michelle Wolf

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click to enlarge CRAIG BLANKENHORN HBO
  • Craig Blankenhorn HBO


Michelle Wolf
It takes chutzpah to emcee the annual White House Correspondents Dinner and then attack the folks who host it—namely, the media. It also takes stones to take aim at the administration's press secretary with a jab some said was over the line. Then again, comedian Michelle Wolf rarely shies away from controversy, no matter whether she's writing for Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Daily Show, hosting her short-lived talk show The Break With Michelle Wolf, starring in her Netflix and Comedy Central specials or entertaining audiences on tour.

Hailed by some pundits as one of the funniest people in America, Wolf was drawn toward improv before she got her big break through her television debut on Late Night. Nevertheless, it was her comments about Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the Correspondents Dinner that inspired particular ire. She was accused of taking an inappropriate shot at Sanders after Wolf stated that Sanders was "using the ashes of lies to create her perfect eye makeup," adding, "She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye."

C-Span nearly cut its coverage on the spot, fearing a fine from the FCC. Others denounced her by insisting she had taken aim at Sanders' personal appearance. Nevertheless, Wolf defended her actions, saying she wasn't insulting Sanders' looks, but simply her penchant for telling untruths and toeing President Donald Trump's line.

Wolf is known for running marathons. Yet she's also made it clear she's not about to flee a good fight. (Lee Zimmerman)

Michele Wolf @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, June 27, 7 p.m.; June 28-29, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., $25-$35,

click to enlarge KARL HUGH
  • Karl Hugh


Utah Shakespeare Festival
The Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival opens its 58th season with a theme of "The Ties that Bind." With a focus on family relationships—running the gamut from happy and dysfunctional to downright dangerous—artistic director Brian Vaughn says, "The 2019 season is rich with life-affirming classical and contemporary plays, each celebrating the preservation of life and the value of our loved ones."

The Shakespeare plays include some of the Bard's best-known creations in Hamlet, Twelfth Night and Macbeth ... oops! Sorry, the, er ... Scottish Play. The festival also presents a rare opportunity to see The Conclusion of Henry VI, Parts Two and Three, performed together in one 4-½ hour production. The seldom-performed plays are part of the festival's "Complete-The-Canon Project," which began in 2012 with the goal of presenting every one of Shakespeare's 38 plays by 2023. The "Shakespeare-related" slot in the schedule goes to The Book of Will, about a group of Shakespeare's fellow actors trying to come up with a plan to make sure the masterpieces of the recently deceased Bard are never forgotten.

Among the contemporary shows on the roster, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will likely be a hot ticket, and has been the most popular musical in festival history. The Price, by American master Arthur Miller, chronicles two brothers who are forced to face their family's past troubles. Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahue continues the theme of families, this time as a source of hope at the darkest times. (Geoff Griffin)

Utah Shakespeare Festival @ various venues, Cedar City, June 27-Oct. 12, times vary, prices vary by play,

click to enlarge TORI DUHAIME
  • Tori Duhaime


Dance West Fest: Topography
Three dance companies, three weeks, 12 acclaimed guest instructors and one show to cap it all off. These are key elements of the Dance West Fest and its culminating showcase Topography.

Repertory Dance Theatre, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co. and The University of Utah School of Dance are joining forces for this event. Topography is a show that's quite unique, since it's not being put on by any one dance company. Rather, three different troupes—under the umbrella of Dance West Fest—collaborate to bring together a variety of dances from guest and local artists.

This kind of collaboration is rare, since all of the organizations are equal partners, according to marketing director Tori Duhame. In general, she notes, when dance studios collaborate, it's done through a third-party. Duhame says the event offers "grand opportunities to provide training ... and welcome dancers and choreographers from all over the world to Salt Lake City."

The workshop portion of Dance West Fest has attracted renowned dancers and choreographers. The 12 guest artists come from around the world, including Ohad Fishof from Israel and Yin Yue from China, to help teach the workshop and fine-tune the final show, which includes work by all of the participating companies. The results should be one of the more unique dance productions to grace a local stage. (Sean Hemmersmeier)

Dance West Fest: Topography @ Rose Wagner Center Black Box, 138 W. 300 South, June 27, 7:30 pm, $15, recommended for ages 8 and up,

click to enlarge GILBERT CISNEROS
  • Gilbert Cisneros


Saturday's Voyeur
Every year, Allen Nevins and Nancy Borgenicht start from scratch to create another edition of Salt Lake Acting Co.'s annual musical revue Saturday's Voyeur, pulling from the weirdest and most infuriating headlines. In some years, the focus has been on more local stories, and in other years, more national stories—but according to the company's managing director, Cynthia Fleming, the line between the two is vanishing.

"National is local now," Fleming says. "National is happening in our own homes."

Voyeur 2019 begins on a peculiarly local note, with the October 2018 re-naming of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the wake of the church de-emphasizing shorthand names like "Mormon." Within that choir, however, is a manifestation of the tensions at the core of national politics. "Within our choir, we have Mormon Republicans, Mormon Democrats, Mormon homosexuals, Mormon non-binary," Fleming says. "People start talking about what they believe in, and we literally see a great divide. Hopefully, what we show is that they come back together, and that we can all live together as our authentic self."

Despite the presence of serious themes, Voyeur remains fundamentally a comedy—riffing on everything from Mitt Romney to Mary Poppins—with a cast consisting largely of Voyeur newcomers taking on the production's unique challenges of tone and content. "It's a challenge, explaining to an actor this style," Fleming says. "It has to come from a real place, but you're asked to do things that are really unnatural, like speaking out to the audience. But it's still a party." (Scott Renshaw)

Saturday's Voyeur 2019 @ Salt Lake Acting Co., 168 W. 500 North, through Sept. 1, $50-$60,

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